Since the transfer of Zack Steffen was made official earlier this month, Columbus Crew SC has been on the hunt for a new keeper.
Though Steffen won’t leave for Manchester City until July, the scouting process began immediately. At the time the transfer was announced, Crew SC interim general manager Pat Onstad said, “Ahead of Zack’s departure next summer, our scouts already have players targeted as the Club identifies a high-caliber replacement.”
One of those targets could be the club’s latest arrival, former Orlando City keeper Joe Bendik. Bendik came at a modest cost of $50,000 in TAM because 2018 was a down year for Bendik, who lost his starting job as Orlando struggled at a historic rate, letting in a league record 74 goals. However, Bendik is not far removed from success. He had seven shutouts and 118 saves for the Lions in 2017.
The move gives Columbus depth behind Steffen for the first half of the season, as Bendik will likely compete with Jon Kempin for the backup position. Both are former MLS starters. Ben Lundgaard, a first-round draft pick in 2018 who did not make an appearance for Crew SC, is also on the roster.
Despite having three keepers even after Steffen departs, the club may not be done adding at that position. With the record fee Crew SC received and the low cost it took to receive Bendik, there is money to spare.
When asked if the team was done adding keepers, either now or in the summer window, Onstad said: “The Club regularly scouts for talented players globally that could be a fit at all positions on the roster and we’re constantly assessing possible transactions year-round. As we continue to shape our 2019 roster, we’re pleased to add Joe to our goalkeeping group that includes Zack, Jon and Ben and we look forward to Joe’s arrival at preseason camp.”
Preseason camp opens up for the Crew on Wednesday, Jan. 23.